Friday, April 18, 2014

Drug Education Prompts Elderly to Reduce Benzodiazepine Use, Study Finds

According to a study published in this week’s JAMA Internal Medicine, discontinued use of benzodiazepines by the elderly is made easier when patients are educated about the medication’s potential harm.

Researchers from the departments of pharmacy and geriatrics at the University of Montreal conducted a study to determine whether educating older patients on the health risks of benzodiazepines would serve as an effective method to discourage the use of such drugs. The study included 303 long-term users of benzodiazepines, aged 65 to 95. The participants were randomly selected to receive a booklet describing adverse health risks of benzodiazepines, along with instructions on how to safely reduce use of the medication and information on alternative strategies for treating insomnia and anxiety.

At the six month follow-up, the results showed that 62 percent of the patients who received booklets initiated a conversation with their physician or pharmacist about benzodiazepine therapy cessation, while 27 percent completely discontinued use. Patients who were not educated on the potential harms of benzodiazepines had a discontinuation rate of 5 percent.

The authors wrote, "In an era of multimorbidity, polypharmacy, and costly therapeutic competition, direct-to-consumer education is emerging as a promising strategy to stem potential overtreatment and reduce the risk of drug harms." The authors concluded that "the value of the patient as a catalyst for driving decisions to optimize health care utilization should not be underestimated."

To read about treatments and diagnosis of sleep disorders and anxiety, see Essentials of Geriatric Psychiatry, Second Edition from American Psychiatric Publishing.

(Kristo-Gothard Hunor/


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